In a head-to-head competition over who can be the bigger assholes, liberal activists or Trump supporters, the Red Hats will win every time. As the War Games computer simulation "Joshua" said, "The only winning move is not to play."
The anti-Trump protesters who've been verbally accosting Republicans in restaurants aren't really helping anyone other than to vent some of their own anger. Frankly, it seems like something we'd all like to do. But given how the other side brags about how well-armed it is, I don't see how the Democrats and anti-Trumpers can possibly come out on top in a head-to-head fight. Couple this with the reality that every action triggers an equal (or greater) and opposite reaction, and it's an unwinnable endeavor, rapidly escalating into the spillage of an ocean of blood without changing anything for the better.
Are their intentions good? Sure. But their message would be better served by some of the things the left does best: protest marches, organizing, and, never forget, we have the comedians and just about everyone who's tethered to logic, facts, and reality. That's how we get the message out. That's how we roll.
But the point of this piece isn't to scold the left. In the debate about "incivility" and so-called "angry mobs," singling out the left for a handful of trespasses is severely missing the point. For a complete understanding of how this spate of confrontations began, we only need to review the near-term record of the gang that started this particular eliminationist fire: the modern Republican Party.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said with a straight face, “Only one side was happy to play host to this toxic fringe behavior. Only one side’s leaders are now openly calling for more of it.”
Let's see if Mitch is correct.
We can't discuss public confrontations without discussing anti-choice activists who've verbally threatened and physically assaulted women nearly every day of the week since the Roe decision was handed down. Couple this with Fox News and talk radio screechers like Bill O'Reilly encouraging violence against abortion doctors such as "Dr. Tiller the Baby Killer," and it's kind of a miracle that more women haven't been killed. Back in 2015, however, CNN reported the numbers:
For years, abortion providers have been targeted on a spectrum of aggressiveness. The National Abortion Federation reports more than 176,000 instances of picketing at clinics (and nearly 34,000 arrests) since 1977. It has documented more than 16,000 reported cases of hate mail or harassing phone calls, over 1,500 acts of vandalism and 400 death threats.
There have been more than 200 bombings and arson attacks at facilities that offer abortion services, the organization reports.
Yeah, but Stephen Miller couldn't enjoy his chips and salsa in peace. Boo-hoo.
A 2,000 pound bullet
It wasn't Democrats or anti-fascist protesters who chose to pilot a car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, killing one and injuring a handful of others. And it wasn't a Democratic president who praised the driver's white supremacist co-conspirators by insisting they're "very fine people" hours after the attack.
Shoot your problems
Unlike the Democrats, Republican rhetoric has encouraged the dangerously misguided notion that deadly violence is the only way to solve problems. In particular, if there's a piece of legislation that's bugging us, the best solution is to, y'know, shoot it.
Again, is it really just "one side," Mr. Leader?
Threats from actual members of Congress
Back in 2010, when Republicans were fluffing their base in preparation for the midterms, the eliminationism was especially ripe.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) held up a picture of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for the crowd, mocking it and “slapping” it. Throughout the day, the tea party protesters accosted Democratic members of Congress with racial and homophobic slurs, and one protester even spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO).
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex.: "They fought against tyranny and oppressive taxes, do that sound familiar? We’re continuing that revolution right here in Austin, Texas today. Thomas Jefferson said the Tree of Liberty will be fed by the blood of tyrants and patriots. You are the modern day patriots."
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.: "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back."
Steve King, again: "If I could start a country with a bunch of people it would be the folks standing out here the last few days. Let’s hope we don’t have to do that. Let’s beat that other side to a pulp. Let’s take them out, let’s chase them down."
Trump's Friend Ted Nugent
Here was see Trump pal and NRA board member Ted Nugent threatening to shoot both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
And here's the same buffoon in the Oval Office:
Trump himself has, without any sense of irony, attacked Democrats for being an "angry mob" despite his ongoing shitshow of kneejerk threats and his repeated calls for violence. These are actual quotes:
- "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell ... I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise."
- "He's walking out with big high-fives, smiling, laughing. I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you."
- "Get him out! Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court. Don't worry about it."
- "When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just seen them thrown in, rough. I said, 'Please don’t be too nice.'"
- "Any guy that can do a body slam, he is my type!"
But Sarah Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. Again, boo-hoo.
And we haven't even really delved into the broader scope of far-right extremism, including mass shootings, the Boston Marathon attack, and so forth. Joshua Holland reported:
Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told NPR that “when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders.”
“The first shots of the second American civil war have already been fired,” said Alex Jones earlier this month. “We are in a clear-cut cultural civil war,” according to Newt Gingrich. Pat Buchanan offered that we’re “approaching something of a civil war,” and said that it’s time for Trump to “burn down the Bastille.” “You ain’t got any idea of the war that’s raging outside the four walls of the church,” religious-right activist Dave Daubenmire told a crowd of antigay protesters last weekend. “Don’t you understand what’s going on? Don’t you know it’s a war? Don’t you know they want your children? Don’t you understand that those same people singing ‘Jesus loves you this I know’ want to kill us?”
Should Democrats and other anti-Trump Republicans play this game, too? No way. We don't need to, and those who do only serve to add fuel to the cable news fire -- the desperate need to "both sides" every issue. That said, we shouldn't back down, either. The struggle to save America from this uptick in violent white nationalism and the like can continue in the streets, in the social media discourse, and at your polling places.
Meanwhile, don't let anyone tell you this is a Democratic problem. The facts prove otherwise. Be tenacious, be assertive, and don't let them strip you of the moral high ground. When they do that, we lose.
How about a nice game of chess?
14 days to go...